For the first time in the UK the government has acknowledged the role of hyperlocal sites in the future news environment. The Digital Britain report singles out Talk About Local as part of a ‘new possibly disruptive wave of local news’. Full extract from Chapter 5 para 61:
’61. Local websites of all shapes and sizes are providing community news and information to hundreds of thousands of people. Most of these sites are volunteer run, using free publishing platforms like http://www.wordpress.com with no hard costs. They show that grass roots media can provide an accurate, reliable,popular sources of news and information without regulation or subsidy. Their news values and thresholds are new, reflecting grass roots interests and priorities.
62. Community sites with no costs can serve very small, human news geographies of a single ward or a few streets. Community websites with no old media legacy are able to discriminate between types of media production to suit local needs. The written word and photos predominate, sound and video are in a minority. In some communities with established local sites the readership within the community appears comparable to that of traditional news media.
63. Digital Britain is at the beginning of a new and possibly disruptive wave of local news, generated by communities for communities using free online media. Over the medium term this has the potential to be good for local pluralism and expression as commercial funding for traditional media diminishes. 4IP and Screen West Midlands are making a major investment in Talk About Local to create hundreds of new community websites by giving community activists the simple skills. Digital Mentors are taking a similar approach on a smaller scale.